Closest Town: Somerset East
Grading: Moderate to difficult | Duration: 2–3 hours
Location (Area/Province): Eastern Cape and Western Region
Configuration: Return or circular routes
Start Point: Somerset East Eco-Estate
Access: Trail permit and day fee
Beware of: You may just OD on singletrack bliss
Facilities: Coffee shop and ablutions
Cell Reception: Good coverage
Hallelujah! The Meurant Botha machine has finally reached the Eastern Cape, and the exhilarating recreational trail network along Boschberg will go down as one of his signature projects. It is aimed at a growing mountain-biking market in the rural heartland of the Eastern Cape, and will be developed in conjunction with a new eco-estate on the outskirts of the village of Somerset East.
This historic little dorp is situated along the local Blue Crane Tourism Route, traversing the edge of the arid Karoo region. An interesting mix of Victorian, Georgian and vernacular architecture, local coffee shops, a ‘proper’ pub, floral country gardens and the intriguing Walter Battis Museum make for an interesting wander along the village streets. [div2 class=”highlight1″]
On your bike
To get to Boschberg Trail, head along Nojoli (Main) Street towards Bruintjieshoogte and Graaff-Reinet until you’re just about out of town. Look for a sign on the right (to the golf course) along Bell Street. Turn right there and then take the second road (gravel) left towards the nature reserve. A new eco-estate on your right (just before you reach the golf course) is to be developed as the trail head, and permits and maps should be available here.
To access the current singletrack is easy enough from the eco-estate; follow the footpath to ride up the zigzag trail until you get to the contour jeep track which links to various new loops. Otherwise you could pedal past the golf course and keep right past the old Bestershoek Caravan Park to ascend via said jeep track, and then link either right or left onto the singletrack.
The full trail network can be combined with the existing gravel roads above and around Somerset East to create a variety of route permutations. Although the initial singletrack loops aim at an easy flow, the current hiking trail network will be converted to dual-purpose usage and these will be way more technical and challenging. All in all, you can expect some superb cranking and hiking routes on the slopes of the Boschberg next time you visit.
Off the bike
Go fishing, horseback riding, hunting or hike up to the Glen Avon Waterfall; prior permission is needed to access the falls and the historic mill nearby, but this spectacular 85m-high cascade is worth the trouble. Abseiling and a very impressive gorge-slide are on the action menu for adrenaline junkies.
Tel: +27 42 243 1448
GPS: 32°43’07.6”South / 25°35’24.2”East